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Russia Tends to Think Chemical Attack in Syria's Khan Sheykhoun Staged

© AFP 2023 / Omar haj kadourA Syrian man collects and bags the body of a dead bird, reportedly killed by a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, on April 5, 2017
A Syrian man collects and bags the body of a dead bird, reportedly killed by a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, on April 5, 2017 - Sputnik International
Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday that Moscow tends more to opt for the "staging" version of the chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib Province earlier this year as the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has confirmed previously the full destruction of Damascus's Soviet-era stockpiles.

UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) — The head of the Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department of the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry Mikhail Ulyanov said at a briefing on Friday that there are reasons to believe the chemical attack in Syria’s Khan Sheykhoun earlier this year was staged.

"The question arises — what has actually happened in Khan Sheykhoun? Unlike some of our partners, we do not intend to categorically impose our point of view. We believe that the JIM [Joint Investigation Mission] must work out all versions, including an air strike," Ulyanov said.

The official also said that "Russia at the same time expects the version of a staged incident would also be carefully studied since, frankly speaking, we tend more and more to opt for that version."

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Ulyanov pointed to a photograph and explained that based on what is shows Russian military experts doubt the crater in the ground where the incident took place is a result of an air bomb explosion — as Western countries claimed.

If an air bomb was used, Ulyanov said, the crater would have been five to six meters in diameter and up to two meters deep. However, the photograph and video footage of the area of the incident show the crater is one to one-and-a-half meters in diameter and only half-a-meter deep, Ulaynov added.

Other characteristics of the crater also give grounds to think that the explosion of a Sarin container was set off directly on the ground, Ulyanov also said.

The officials noted that it is most likely an improvised explosive device was placed on the surface of the container, which had less than 1.2kg of a chemical agent in it. Also, no fragments of the bomb were detected on numerous photos and videos from the site.

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In May, Human Rights Watch published an investigation in which it claimed that the Syrian authorities allegedly used a Soviet-era KhAB-250 bomb, designed specifically to deliver sarin gas, in Khan Sheikhoun town on April 4.

In April, the Syrian government faced accusations of a chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Syria's Idlib province. Damascus has refuted the allegations, pointing out that it does not possess any chemical weapons and that the full destruction of its arsenal was confirmed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

A report by the OPCW Joint Investigation Mechanism on the chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Khan Sheykhoun is expected by October 26,  Mikhail Ulyanov said at a briefing on Friday.

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